Letters to the Editor, June 11, 2016
Youths don’t have enough job choices
A recent series of youth suicides has sounded the alarm for potential flaws in our education system and sparked calls for greater immediate attention to be paid to the mental health of Hong Kong students.
Many put the blame on the pressure the local education system imposes on students and the Education Bureau’s inability in handling the crises and in shouldering responsibility.
As a student who has been through the secondary school system here and the faced the Diploma of Secondary Education, I believe we have to dig deeper and not just blame the schooling we receive.
In terms of exam-induced stress, Hong Kong students are not particularly pampered but are indeed considerably better off compared to their Asian counterparts. Issues like elitism and exam orientation are much more severe on the mainland and in countries like Japan, Singapore and Korea. Hong Kong exam sitters generally face milder competition.
Then what is it that suffocates youngsters in Hong Kong? They are pressured by the lack of dignified pathways and the stress of failing to perform well and entering a decent university are far greater than in exams.
It may be suggested that young people be more realistic and diligent, and not take things for granted, thinking that a successful completion of a university degree guarantees a relatively comfortable life. But youths today are, in fact, struck hard by the lack of upward social mobility.
A transition into a knowledge based economy has done society good by allowing us to maintain sustainable growth. Yet industries and the government struggle to fill the gap in losing the good old times when even school leavers could earn decent salaries with their factory or clerk jobs.
The way governments have tried to recreate an upscaled version of the “good old times” with a knowledge-based transition, has failed. Vocational pathways mostly lack the recognition of some industries and the general public. Worse still, because of Hong Kong’s narrow range of strong industries, decent jobs may not even be available – the finance and logistics sectors offer some hope. This is principally where the frustration of the city’s youth lies. Opportunities are greatly limited for both high and low achievers.
Toby Yeung, Sha Tin
Traditional beliefs hamper donor efforts
Stories about organ donations and people waiting for one seldom make the front pages.
However, the shortage of available donors remains a serious problem in many countries. For example, in Hong Kong, the number of donors is far less than the number of patients who are waiting for organs such as livers, kidneys and corneas.
The Hong Kong government is trying to raise interest and encourage citizens to register as organ donors. For instance, people can now register online instead of going in to sign up and celebrities are used in TV commercials to encourage people to join up.
It may be that cultural traditions of keeping a body whole after death have impeded potential donors but if more people realise lives can be saved, then the shortage of organs will be less of a problem.
If parents change their traditional way of thinking, and suggest organ donation is a good thing, the next generation will contribute to saving more lives by giving their organs.
The government wants to have a new policy of organ donation in which all Hongkongers are potential donors unless they explicitly opt out. This new system would increase the number of donors and that would be a great thing.
Shirley Lee, Tseung Kwan O
Waste not, want not and stay healthy
Obesity is a problem that is becoming more serious in Hong Kong, where most people can spend their money to eat some tasty food. But this comes at a health cost because much of the food bought at many cafes and restaurants contains high amounts of cholesterol, sugar and even some carcinogens.
This increases the chance of people getting diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
Then there is the problem of bulging landfills where too much food waste is being dumped.
We must educate the young generation to be aware that not everyone eats well and that we all have a civic responsibility to create a fair society and not waste food.
Education is not only the obligation of school but also the role of parents and government.
Jackie Lee, Tai Po
Government must help combat obesity
The number of teenagers who suffer from obesity has been increasing in recent years.
It is a very serious problem which the government should immediately address.
Firstly, obesity causes a lot of health problems. People with weight problems can suffer from various ailments, including heart disease. We can all play our part to try and help those who are very overweight.
Students who are eating propertly, can tell friends who have a weight problem not to eat junk food and oily food which contain a lot of fat. They can ask their friends to join them in some exercise.
Teachers also need to address this problem in the classroom and explain to their students the harm that can be caused by obesity.
Teachers have a responsibility to help students avoid overweight problems and inform them of the ways they can stay healthy. Schools could also hold talks and special lessons for all students to attend to raise awareness of the health hazards associated with obesity.
Moreover, having a longer recess and lunch time is also a great idea to give students a chance to do some exercise. Too long sitting in class compounds the problem.
The government should run some TV, poster or advertising campaigns to lift public awareness of the obesity problem and encourage citizens do more exercise.
A balanced diet avoiding food high in fat is also a basic step we can all take.
Daniel Hui, Hang Hau
Not always a sinister motive
Last month it was reported that police from China were patrolling the streets of Rome and Milan with their Italian counterparts to protect mainland tourists .
I see this as a cultural exchange of a kind for two countries.
Can you imagine if we had this arrangement in Hong Kong? Our democratic camps would cry foul and burn the national flag.
I wish our community would reflect on this.
G. Chan, Mid-Levels
Dumped food puts pressure on landfills
Food waste problem is a serious problem in Hong Kong. At present accounts for a third of rubbish dumped in the landfills.
Over 3,300 tonnes of food waste is produced in Hong Kong each day.
The amount generated by the hospitality industry alone has doubled in the past five years. The vast majority of this food ends up in landfills, where it is leading to the rapid depletion of our already limited dump space and imposing a severe burden on the local environment.
Organic treatment centres do not offer long-term solutions. They are costly and it is not easy to find land on which to build them. In the long run the most effective solution in order to cut volumes of waste is reduction at source. This is not costly and it comes down to raising public awareness.
Lam Sze-ching, Kowloon Tong